Thursday August 28, 2014
Some may anticipate the approach of Labor Day with a sense of foreboding. The start of school and the end of summer tend to be universal downers especially in a state where the sunshine season is so short. However, there is a way to capture the last of the warm weather days while savoring the gorgeous South Burlington landscape: sign up for the 2nd annual GMAA Labor Day 15k!
The Green Mountain Athletic Association is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization formed in 1976 to promote health, fitness and friendship through athletics and athletic competition. They organize twelve running events each year ranging from 5km races to marathons.
Last year, race Co-Director and South Burlington High School teacher Erin Randall-Mullins along with fellow Co-Director Kristen Courcelle decided to help organize a race that started at Dorset Park and ended at the high school, where people could shower afterward. Eighty-nine runners participated on a sunny Sunday with temperatures that ended in the low 70s. The good participation level and positive feedback inspired the GMAA to pursue Grand Prix designation for the 2014 race through the USATF-NE (USA Track and Field New England) which is one of the largest and most active associations in the country.
One of USATF-NE’s programs is the road race Grand Prix Series. The series consists of seven races at different distances through the year. Teams and individuals earn cash awards at each event. Additionally, they score points through the series with team cash awards and individual prizes given out at the conclusion. The Grand Prix events draw a number of New England’s top runners throughout all age groups. As of August 19, the race already boasted 259 registered runners!
Each fall, USATF-NE accepts applications from races throughout the region desiring to be a part of the series for the following year. After a bid presentation meeting, the committee puts together several proposed slates of events. The membership then votes on the proposed slates. The races on the slate receiving the most votes are then designated as the Grand Prix Series. Randall-Mullins and Courcelle led a GMAA group that put together the bid application, traveled to Dedham, Mass. to present the bid and worked social media to encourage voting for the slate that included the Vermont Labor Day 15k. Ultimately, all the work paid off and the Labor Day 15k was designated as a Grand Prix Championship event for 2014.
According to Randall-Mullins, the GMAA wanted to bring a Grand series event back to Vermont for several reasons. “Vermont has a vibrant running community, this is a great way to get the region’s best runners to experience that first hand, and this is also another opportunity to stimulate our area’s economy. Many of the participants bring their families, stay in a hotel, buy dinner and visit our plentiful attractions,” Randall-Mullins said.
Another difference from last year’s event is that there are cash awards. The race is offering a $3,400 cash prize fund this year. Cash awards will be made to the top teams as well as to the top individual in all age groups. The race is also offering non-cash prizes to overall and age-group winners. Those goodies include an assortment of local Vermont products such as maple syrup, cider donuts, and items from the South Burlington farmers market!
The race begins at 9 a.m. Sunday, August 31 at Veterans Memorial Park on Dorset St. Participants are asked to park at the high school, not the park. It costs $35 to race if you pre-register (online registration ends August 29) and $50 on the day of the race.
For those not volunteering or racing, here are the road closures you need to know about: Swift Street will be closed to traffic for the start of the race. Going south on Spear Street, there will either be a lane closed or partial lane closing to allow 2-3 runners to run abreast. The course will be coned throughout and will have police presence at major intersections and traffic monitors on turns.
For more information, go to www.gmaa.net or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent